Zanu(PF) is expected to easily win Friday’s by-elections in Mt Darwin West and Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe where it is contesting against fringe political parties.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is boycotting the polls along with other notable opposition parties led by Dumiso Dabengwa (ZAPU) and Welshman Ncube (MDC).
Tsvangirai, Ncube and Dabengwa are arguing that there should be major electoral reforms first.
Their absence means that Zanu(PF) will square off against little-known parties such as Transform Zimbabwe, led by one Jacob Ngarivhume; the National Constitutional Assembly headed by Lovemore Madhuku and an outfit called Good People’s Movement.
There are also some ambitious independent candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring although none of them stands a chance against Zanu(PF).
ZANU-PF has put up a vigorous campaign, with leaders, including the two vice presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, descending on the constituencies to rally support for their candidates.
Despite relentless calls for electoral reforms from the opposition, the ruling party has insisted that Zimbabwe’s voting process is fair and credible, dismissing the opposition’s move as a publicity stunt.
While the opposition has made similar claims in past elections, this is the first time they have resorted to boycotting the poll
The MDC-T has even filed a Constitutional Court challenge in which it seeks to stop the elections from proceeding on the basis of an uneven electoral field.
The court application seems to have been ignored by the courts.
Analysts say the boycott is insignificant given that Zanu(PF) has won elections in those constituencies by huge margins.
Mt Darwin West, vacated by expelled vice president, Joice Mujuru, has remained a ZANU-PF stronghold since the entry of the MDC-T on the political arena; while Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe has also been a preserve of the ruling party since its establishment in 2008, with Mnangagwa winning it twice on the trot.
He vacated it when he was appointed Vice President in December last year following Mujuru’s expulsion from government.
Given the boycott, observers have expressed concern that many might not bother to vote because the ruling party’s candidates, Auxilia Mnangagwa (Vice-President Mnangagwa’s wife) and Barnwell Seremwe are virtually assured of victory.
And even before the polls, Zanu(PF) is already in a celebratory mood.
“We have no doubt whatsoever that the party will retain the Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe seat. What do you expect when we are competing against parties which in marketing terms I would call ‘no-names’,” said Zanu(PF) Midlands provincial spokesperson, Cornelius Mpereri.
Political analysts agreed that there would not be any upsets in the polls.
“This boycott means Zanu(PF) will face no credible competition and is definitely going to collect both seats,” said political analysts, Rashweat Mukundu.
Parliament last week expelled 21 MDC Renewal Team legislators, most of whom are in Harare and Bulawayo which means there would be more by-elections